Israel News for October 27, 2015

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Gaza Strike
The Israeli Air Force struck Hamas targets in Gaza last night in response to a rocket fired into an empty area of Southern Israel.

In Jerusalem, a third victim of the terror attack on bus #78 in Armon Hateziv died of his wounds. The man was 76 year old Richard Lakin, an educator and writer originally from Massachusetts.

Cameras Removed
In the wake of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that Jordan and Israel had agreed to install video surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount, Israeli police removed cameras installed by the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that runs the site. The PM’s office issued a statement defending the move and confirmed that cameras would be installed by professional technicians approved by both Jordan and Israel.

Facebook vs. Hamas
Facebook has taken a stand against incitement to violence by Hamas and shut down numerous Hamas related pages and groups. According to a statement by Hamas, “Facebook has closed, over the past two days, a large number of pages run by and close to the Hamas movement’s media in the occupied West Bank…that played a key large role in supporting the Al-Quds intifada.”

The closures included pages based in Ramallah, Galilee, Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Salfit, Tubas and Jenin, as well as the page of Muslim Youth League in the West Bank and some Palestinian university pages. Facebook also froze the accounts of dozens of publishers and administrators who run the pages. Hamas also announced that the page of its official spokesperson, Husam Badran, had been shut down.

Way to go Facebook! There’s no excuse for allowing pages that incite violence against anyone to continue. Let’s hope they keep up the good work.

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Terror and Food
The recent terror wave has affected Israeli stomachs. According to figures just released, supermarket sales dropped by 7% in the first two weeks of October as more Israelis chose to stay home because of the security situation. Online sales increased by 30% in the same period, but the increase didn’t make up for the in-store sales drop.

Retail clothing stores have also been badly hit during the past two months. Jerusalem has taken the worst hit with significant sales drops in the city center, Mamilla and the Malcha Mall. Large malls in Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah, Ashdod and Beersheba have all seen drops of around 40%.

Once this wave of terror is over, there might be a big surge of spending as Israelis who’ve lost weight by not eating as much are forced to buy new clothing that fits. Let’s hope.

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Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir, the assassin who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, is serving his life sentence in solitary confinement in the Rimonim Prison. According to the rules of his incarceration, he is permitted to walk in the prison yard and to study, as long as he is accompanied by another prisoner.

The prison authority has approved two prisoners to be allowed the “honor” of serving as Amir’s escorts. One is a convicted rapist and the other is a kidnapper. They’ll be accompanying him for an hour and half on his walk and for a two hour Talmud study session. That’s quite an image.

In a disturbing survey of 480 participants in the National Religious (Zionist) community, 55% believe that Yigal Amir did not kill Rabin while 68% think that his life sentence should be commuted.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Yitchak Rabin’s assassination.

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Prison Warden Fired
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) fired Colonel Shimon Bibas, the warden of the maximum security Nafha prison after terrorist prisoners were found with cell phones.

Dozens of prisoners managed to smuggle in the cell phones, which they allegedly used to help coordinate terror attacks. The IPS asserted that it is “waging an all-out war” on contraband cell phones, “through technological means, undercover agents,” and other measures.

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The Flag
Knesset member Yoel Hason of the Zionist Union party is calling on the Prime Minister to fire Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely for stating in a recent interview that she believes that the Israeli flag should fly over the Temple Mount. He thinks that saying that in these tense times is wrong and dangerous. She obviously disagrees, but says that her personal opinions do not affect her commitment to carrying out government policy.

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Haredim Demonstrate
The Haredi community is usually viewed as siding with the Right on the political spectrum. But not when it comes to the Temple Mount.

Haredi extremists (it’s all relative) held a demonstration in front of the home of Rabbi Yosef Elboim, a Belzer Hasid, after they discovered photos of him with a group of Jews on the Temple Mount. The photos were in an article by a Reuters correspondent who tweeted the link. Evidently some of the extremists are on Twitter.

The demonstrators called Elboim a “murderer” and held up signs publicizing the prohibitions issued by most Haredi rabbinic leaders prohibiting Jews from visiting the Temple Mount because of the fear that they might enter areas of the mount that are considered too holy to enter according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Elboim will apparently be curbing his Temple Mount visits until further notice.

On a related note, Shas MK Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen attacked Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely and other politicians who openly advocate Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, claiming that they are “fanning the flames” of violence and endangering Jewish lives.

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